Look11: ‘CONFINED’ at the Bluecoat

Sat 14 May – Sun 10 July 2011 daily 10.00 – 18.00 at the Bluecoat,
Look 11: International Photography Festival
CONFINED, featuring Juergen Chill (Ger), Edmund Clark (UK), John Darwell (UK), Dornith Doherty (US), Ben Graville (UK), David Maisel (USA) and David Moore
Free, no ticket required

Seven artists from across the world will explore confinement in contemporary life at the Bluecoat between Sat 14 May and Sun 10 July as part of the city’s first ever photography festival.

The theme of Look 11 is ‘photography as a call to action’ – the role of photography in questioning, documenting and responding to global issues of social justice.
Four of the Bluecoat’s artists are concerned with the confinement of humans: Juergen Chill’s photographs of German prison cells are architectural studies of the physical space prisoners inhabit; Edmund Clark’s photographs of Guantanamo illustrate three views of ‘home’ in the context of political imprisonment; David Moore explores surveillance through an investigation of Paddington Green High Security Police Station where terror suspects are held under the Counter Terrorism Act; and Ben Graville’s penetrating and provocative portraits capture prisoners being driven to and from the Old Bailey.

John Darwell’s new photographic series Dogs in Cages, commissioned by the Bluecoat, is an allegory on incarceration. Produced in cooperation with one of the North West’s largest dogs homes, the work highlights the nature and mechanics of captivity.

Dornith Doherty has collaborated with leading biologists to photograph at seed banks, including the one at Kew, responding to the collection process, containment of biological species and global efforts to insure against starvation. David Maisel documents cremated remains of psychiatric patients collected since the late 19th century. Abstract and elegiac, the photographs provoke discussion about loss, memory, confinement and mental illness.


Sara-Jayne Parsons, Exhibitions Curator at the Bluecoat said: “The work included in our exhibition explores several different interpretations of physical and psychological confinement in contemporary life. We’ve tried to create juxtapositions within the show that will lead our audience to consider the complex relationship between justice, ethics, a duty of care and compassion – a fundamental relationship that affects “captives” and “keepers.”

Look11’s Artistic Director, Stephen Snoddy, said: “Photography has the power to frame and represent debate, to capture events in a way the written word cannot. This summer we want people to think about how photography works as a medium. The message is ‘stop, think, examine and debate’.

As well as exhibiting works across Liverpool at the city’s largest arts venues and spaces by the UK’s leading photographers and artists we want people to pick up a camera themselves. Photography is increasingly democratic. We all have cameras in our pockets now, this summer we want to explore what they can do and what people have to say with their photos”.

Exhibition tour with the artists and curator
May 14, 2pm, Galleries, ticketed but free

Artist talk – Edmund Clark
June 2, 6-7pm, Galleries, ticketed but free

When the Light Goes Out: Edmund Clark, Omar Deghayes & Erwin James
June 2, 7.30-9pm, Performance Space, ticketed but free
Responding to Edmund Clark’s photographs in the Bluecoat exhibition Confined, former prisoners Omar Deghayes and Erwin James discuss their experiences of incarceration.

Artist talk – John Darwell
June 16, 6-7.30pm, ticketed but free

Photographer Ben Graville in conversation with Sara-Jayne Parsons, Exhibitions Curator
July 7, 6-7.30pm, ticketed but free

Fri 13 – Sun 15 May
The National Photography Symposium
Established by photography network Redeye, the National Photography Symposium is the place for photographers to gather and talk about key issues of the moment. It takes place in a different venue each year, this year at the Bluecoat as part of Look11. ‘The most important forum in UK photography’ (Francis Hodgson, Financial Times), it offers a range of presentations, panel discussions and practical sessions, plus opportunities to meet, chat informally and look at photography.
Further details: Redeye www.redeye.org.uk
National Photography Symposium http://uknps.org.uk

Encounters with strangers: Pete Carr
May 13-June 14

Encounters with strangers features portraits of strangers – nothing unusual there perhaps. However instead of displaying these portraits in the traditional manner in a gallery, the photographer is using social media to let the public encounter each photo out on the street in the location where it was taken.

Anyone with a smartphone will be able to download a free map that takes them out of the Bluecoat and onto the streets of Liverpool and the Wirral to find the photographs. You will only be able to see each photograph and read about the person in it when you are in the right location.

Artist talk – Pete Carr
June 8, 7-8pm, Bistro, ticketed but free

Until 10 July (Extended) Daily 10.00am-6.00pm
Sharon Mutch: Solitary Sitting Rooms
In response to the confined theme, photographer Sharon Mutch, based at the Bluecoat, investigates voluntary and involuntary confinement. Her photographic installations look beyond the street to construct a narrative of interiors, concentrating on residents who are seldom seen. Here, the lens is not pointed at the confinee, but becomes their eyes, and what we view in the photographs are isolation, confusion, daydreams – instruments of contact with the outside world.  Everything is not as it seems, as we discover that interwoven within the photographs are portals to the past that create an escape from daily reality.

c. Sharon Mutch

Top image: c. David Moore